Initially delivered in 2012 and updated in 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum that has had profound consequences for individuals who came to the United States as children without going through the usual legal process. Entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,” this memo created what has come to be known as the deferred action program, which allows individuals in specific circumstances to remain in the country even if their status as immigrants doesn’t meet current legal requirements.
In order to qualify for the deferred action program, an individual must meet the following requirements:
- Have arrived in the United States before the individual’s 16th birthday
- Must have lived continuously in the U.S. since at least January 10th, 2010
- Must currently be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military
- Must not have a felony conviction or multiple and/or significant misdemeanor convictions on their criminal record, or otherwise pose a threat to public safety or national security
- Must be at least 15-years-old at the time of filing an application for deferred action
If an individual is approved for deferred action status, they receive protection from removal or deportation during the duration of the deferred action period, which can last for up to two years and can be renewed as long as the individual still meets the program’s requirements. In addition, the individual becomes eligible to obtain legal employment authorization.
If you are living in the United States illegally and you believe that you may qualify for deferred action status, an experienced attorney can help walk you through the application process in order to help you take advantage of this valuable opportunity. Contact the Austin deferred action attorneys at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, today by calling (512) 323-2333 to speak with a knowledgeable legal professional about your situation and learn more about what we can do for you.
The Application Process
Individuals pursuing deferred action status can apply whether they are in removal proceedings or not. For those who are not currently in removal proceedings, the application must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individuals in this position may also, if they so choose, apply for employment authorization.
Not the DREAM Act
Although President Obama’s deferred action program shares many elements in common with the DREAM Act, they are different in one key respect: while the DREAM Act would provide a path to permanent residency for those who qualify, the deferred action program does not do so. If you would like to learn more about the DREAM Act and what its passage would mean, please consult our link under Deferred Action Resources titled “A Letter from William Jang.”
At the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, we want to be as transparent as possible with our clients. In that light, the following is an explanation of the fees that our office charges for filing a deferred action application in the United States at the USCIS, as well as the filing fee charged by the USCIS:
- $1,000 attorney’s fee for new filings, $400 for renewals
- $495 for USCIS filing fee (for employment authorization)
Our dedicated legal team has substantial experience helping clients with a wide range of different immigration issues, and we know what it takes to effectively represent the needs of those applying for deferred action status. For a small sample of some of our prior cases, visit this link (link to /approved-cases/).
Deferred Action Resources
We are committed to helping clients and those who simply need a better grasp of their potential rights and options under the law to get the help and information they need. Therefore, we have compiled the following resources to help provide a clearer picture of the deferred action program and what applicants will need to get started:
- Information and Documents needed for Deferred Action
- Sample Retainer Agreement
- A Letter from William Jang
- FAQs about Deferred Action
Frequently Asked Questions
Deferred action is a complicated and potentially stressful process. To ease some stress, here are the answers to a few of the questions we hear most often.
Does deferred action give an immigrant legal status in the United States?
Although deferred action does not give an immigrant legal status in the United States, it formally delays removal indefinitely. If you receive deferred action status, you may be able to explore available paths to legal resident status and, ultimately, citizenship. With deferred action, the executive branch exercises its discretion not to pursue deportation. Deferred action approval does not mean that you become a lawful resident but rather that authorities agree not to pursue removal because you meet qualifying requirements.
What is the difference between deferred action and the DREAM Act?
The deferred action immigration program is not the same as the DREAM Act. Deferred action dates to 1975. Many American presidents have used deferred action programs. The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is just one deferred action program used by the executive branch. Each president sets their priorities for immigration actions. Deferred action is a formalized plan not to pursue removal of certain, qualifying immigrants. It is not a law but a written, clear list of priorities that the executive branch announces to give certain immigrants assurance that authorities do not plan to pursue removal for a specified period.
Are most deferred action applications successful?
Yes, for individuals who meet the qualifying standards for deferred action status, most applications are successful. For example, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2017, U.S. officials approved 45,593 new applications and denied 44 applications. In 2016, officials approved 73,349 new applications and denied only 1,151 applications. The rate of approved renewal applications is approximately 90 percent.
For an application to be successful, it must be complete. You must submit USCIS Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, along with the proper supporting information. The application asks for detailed information about your personal history and characteristics and includes questions about your criminal history, education, military service, and marital status. All applicants must sign their paperwork under penalty of perjury.
When is it appropriate to file Form I-821D?
New applicants may file their application for deferred action at any time if they meet the requirements. When filing for deferred action renewal, you must file your request within 150 days of the expiration of your current deferral status. It’s important to file your application as close as you can to 150 days from the expiration of your current status so that officials have time to process your renewal application. If you file your application too soon, officials may reject it and instruct you to send it within the 150-day interval.
What nationalities qualify for deferred action?
Successful deferred action applicants come from diverse countries of origin. Although three-fourths of applicants come from Mexico, applicants come from throughout the world. There may be general travel or immigration restrictions for individuals from certain countries, but there are no restrictions on country of origin in the deferred action program.
If you need help with your deferred action, contact the Austin immigration lawyers at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC by calling (512) 323-2333 or submitting an online contact form.